Deplorable or Pitiful?

Obama Administration

You will have heard about Hillary Clinton’s infamous “deplorables” remark.

“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” Clinton said. “Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”

Of course, actual Trump supporters, who whine incessantly about “political correctness,” threw a fit and complained that Clinton wasn’t nice to them. Meanwhile, they’re assaulting Trump protesters again. Those who are not Trump supporters think that “half” is way too low an estimate.

However, I think “pitiful” is more accurate than deplorable.

Here’s a New York Times story that was published a couple of days before the “deplorable” remark. It’s one of those “educated well-paid East Coast reporter spends time with hick southern rednecks, tries to be sympathetic” stories. For example:

Far from the metropolitan hubs inhabited by the main beneficiaries of globalization’s churn, many people feel disenfranchised from both main political parties, angry at stagnant wages and growing inequality, and estranged from a prevailing liberal urban ethos. I heard a lot about how Obama has not been supportive enough of the police, of how white lives matter, too, and of how illegal — as in illegal immigrant — means illegal, just as robbing a bank is. For anyone used to New York chatter, or for that matter London or Paris chatter, Kentucky is a through-the-looking-glass experience. There are just as many certainties; they are simply the opposite ones, whether on immigration, police violence toward African-Americans, or guns. America is now tribal, with each tribe imbibing its own social-media-fed ranting.

I’m hearing him say “This species homo ignarus is like us, only opposite.” But maybe I’m not being charitable.

Hazard is in Perry County, where unemployment is above 10 percent. On a bench opposite the county courthouse, on the Starbucks-free Main Street, I found Steve Smith and Paul Bush. Smith used to work underground at the Starfire mine. He earned as much as $1,500 a week, but was laid off a while ago. His unemployment has dried up and he has four children to feed. His family scrapes by on his wife’s income as a nurse. He’d been in court over a traffic offense; now an idle afternoon stretched away.

“Trump’s going to get us killed, probably!” he told me. “But I’ll vote for him anyway over Hillary. If you vote for Hillary you vote for Obama, and he’s made it impossible to ship coal. This place is about dried up. A job at Wendy’s is the only thing left. We may have to move.”

Trump has promised he will get the coal industry up and running again, but of course that’s not going to happen. A very long time ago someone should have been explaining to coal mine workers and their dependents that coal is going away and not coming back. And politicians in the state should have been pro-active in bringing in industries or something to replace coal. But nobody did that, and nobody ever talks to these people except to exploit them.

Jenny Williams, an English teacher at Hazard Community and Technical College, told me it’s past time to get over divisions between “Friends of Coal” — a popular movement and bumper sticker — and anti-coal environmentalists to forge a creative economy around agriculture, ecotourism, education and small-scale manufacture. Coal, she observed, was never going to last forever. “How could any idiot support Trump?” she said. “But when you’ve been on $70,000 a year in coal mines, and your life’s pulled out from under you, who else can you be mad at but the government?”

This has been beyond obvious for a long time. But while the Trump supporters blame Obama, they should have been blaming the local and state officials and their U.S. Congress critters who did nothing to address the inevitable end of coal going back 20 and 30 years. Even now, according to the article, those same officials are asking for something to be done to save coal.

“We need Trump for a reasonable Supreme Court and an E.P.A no longer skewed against fossil fuels,” Bissett argued. “A lot of jobs here still depend on coal and cheap electricity. That’s why Clinton is toxic right now.”

They still aren’t facing reality.

Back to the guys in front of the courthouse:

He was awaiting his son, in court on a drug charge for the painkiller Percocet. A retired operator of heavy equipment for the Road Department, Bush said his son did nothing, “just a few odd jobs.” He continued: “Obama’s probably never known hardship. He and Hillary don’t get it. At least Trump don’t hold nothing back: If he don’t like something, he tells you about it.”

His son’s girlfriend emerged from the courthouse. “They locked him up,” she said.


“He failed one of the drug tests.”

“Well, ain’t nothin’ we can do about it,” Bush said.

 Like Trump ever suffered hardship, but let’s go on … The small-town and rural South and Midwest are being eaten alive by drugs. Not only is it one way to make money; it’s easier to set up a meth lab or whatever that won’t get noticed if you’ve got lots of woods to hide in, as opposed to a city. And you’ve got a population of people who don’t see a future for themselves, all too willing to self-medicate.

What’s happened to eastern Kentucky is devastating, but far from unique. At France’s diner, another popular Hazard hangout, Daniel Walker, who works from home for a medical software company, told me: “Look, I lived for a while in Mansfield, Ohio, and General Motors moved its stamping plant there to Mexico, with the loss of thousands of factory jobs. The decent middle-class life is gone.”

This is the real complaint, and it goes beyond coal. Somehow, politicians saw that these big global trade deals would boost the economy overall, but they ignored the part about cutting middle-class  workers out of the deal. All those factories closed; people were just supposed to find other jobs. But there were no other jobs, or at least, not jobs that paid at the same rate.

I can remember when George W. Bush promised Americans that it was okay to ship manufacturing jobs to India, because that would just create more jobs here in America. It was absurd, but I suspect he believed it. I suspect all of the people he ever talked to about economics believed it. Outsourcing creates new foreign markets; new foreign markets meant that companies here made more money. Obviously there would be jobs.

But doing what, exactly? That’s where the dots don’t connect. American companies made more money but had no work for American workers to do.

There are communities like Hazard County all over America, where there was once a factory or a mine or some sort of industry that paid good wages. Fifty years ago the boys could graduate from high school one day and get a secure, decent-paying job the next day. And with the money they made they bought cars and houses and kept money flowing through that community. That way of life is pretty much gone in the U.S., and nobody prepared the working class for it or even gave serious thought about what would happen to those workers when the industrial jobs dried up.

“Nobody” includes politicians of both parties. As long as their investment portfolios were doing well, everything was hunky-dory.

In a way, I can’t blame them for preferring the candidate promising change, narcissistic humbug though he may be, over the one who exemplifies the status quo. Yes, a lot of these workers are racist and xenophobic and badly educated, and they have no clue what’s really going on in the world. But who’s telling them anything about what’s really going on? Politicians? News media? Um, nobody, that’s who.

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Correct Remembrance

American History

Well, it’s that anniversary again. Somehow I woke up today with the phrase “correct remembrance” in my head. This is taken from Buddhism. The Sanskrit term is samyak-smriti (in Pali, samma-sati), and it is often translated “right mindfulness.” But it could just as accurately be “correct remembrance.”

Mindfulness, of course, is trendy now. Popular mindfulness is all about being here now; staying in the present moment without getting lost in daydreams, worries or plans. And it is that.

But the Buddha also spoke of remembrance. Part of this is correctly remembering that none of us will escape sickness, old age, death and loss. It’s also the case that if you are mindfully attending to current events, you will remember them correctly. Otherwise, you won’t.

Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Memory is not like re-playing a video recording. Memories change over time. Sometimes what you think is your memory is something planted in your head that you heard from someone else. It really isn’t that uncommon for people to remember things that didn’t happen, or that didn’t happen the way they remember it.  (See Scientific American on this point.)

Today all kinds of people are “remembering” 9/11. Most were watching on television. The “truthers,” of course, remember all kinds of things that differ from what I saw with my own eyes. By now they’ve grown a whole mythology about 9/11 that has completely replaced any resemblance of verifiable fact, and they can’t be dissuaded from it.

But there’s also the blanket blaming of “religion.” I see memes on social media showing the twin towers with the words “imagine no religion.” But this is incorrect remembrance from people who never bothered to understand the roots of Middle East terrorism.

The 9/11 terrorists were hardly devout Muslims; it was recorded that several of them drank and liked to go nightclubbing. They were fanatics, yes, but not religious ones. Their core grievances had more to do with politics, with history, with western hegemony threatening their cultures, and probably with personal issues also. Religion was just the box they put their grievances in.

And, in a similar way, religion has become the  simplistic, one-size-fits-all scapegoat for violence in the world today. I’m not saying there is no connection at all, but if you study each situation in detail you find that the core issues, the real fanatical grievances that drive violent mass movements these days, are not religious issues. Religion is used to erect a facade of righteousness around the real sources of fanatical rage. It also can be used to absolve perpetrators (in their minds) of blame for what are really acts of depravity and hate.

The truth is, if religion disappeared tomorrow, people would just find other boxes. If the 20th century should have taught us anything, it’s that violent and fanatical mass movements can be formed around politics, nationalism, and ethnic identity. Religion isn’t necessary. Of course, it is regrettable that religion doesn’t seem to help, either, except on an individual level.

By now we’re way past correct remembrance of 9/11. As soon as it happened, people were putting the events through their own conceptual filters, which is way not mindful. By now hardly anybody remembers 9/11. What we recall are our ideas about 9/11. Not the same thing.

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Everybody Hates Matt Lauer

News Media

I need to preface this by saying that I did not watch last night’s Commander in Chief forum. I’m only going by the reviews. But it appears moderator Matt Lauer bombed, big time. And it’s not just bloggers and liberal websites saying so.

James Poniewozik, The New York Times:

The NBC presidential forum on Wednesday night in Manhattan brought together the candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump to try to determine who has the strength, preparation and presence of mind to lead during a time of crisis.

It sure wasn’t Matt Lauer.

In an event aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier Intrepid, the “Today” host was lost at sea. Seemingly unprepared on military and foreign policy specifics, he performed like a soldier sent on a mission without ammunition, beginning with a disorganized offensive, ending in a humiliating retreat.

The gist of everyone’s criticism of his Hillary Clinton interview is that he spent too much time on the damn emails — no revelations came from this — and then stopped her from providing substantive answers to other questions.

Callum Borchers, The Washington Post:

Roughly a third of his questioning dealt with the emails — a matter certainly connected to national security, but also a staple issue of this year’s campaign-trail reporting. It suggested, as the rest of the forum confirmed, that Mr. Lauer was steadiest handling issues familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of the morning politics headlines.

That emphasis left relatively little time for the forum’s foreign-policy and military subjects. Mr. Lauer and the audience asked about complex topics — the Middle East, terrorism, veterans’ affairs — and Mr. Lauer pressed for simple answers. “As briefly as you can,” he injected when an audience member asked how Mrs. Clinton would decide whether to deploy troops against the Islamic State.

There’s a difference between an interviewer who has questions and one who has knowledge, and Mr. Lauer illustrated it. He seemed to be plowing through a checklist, not listening in the moment in a way that led to productive follow-ups. Short on time, he repeatedly interrupted Mrs. Clinton in a way he didn’t with Mr. Trump. (“Let me finish,” she protested at one point.)

Trump, on the other hand, got softballs:

When a prominent figure representing the United States on an international stage sat down with Matt Lauer recently, the NBC host asked tough questions probing his false statements.

The prominent figure was Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte. On Wednesday night, a far different Lauer sat down with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.  …

… That interview was the apotheosis of this presidential campaign’s forced marriage of entertainment and news. The host of NBC’s morning show interviewed the former star of its reality show “The Apprentice,” and the whole thing played out as farce.

Like Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has had a few controversies related to the military. You might recall him feuding with a Gold Star family, or mocking Senator John McCain for being captured in Vietnam, or likening his prep-school attendance to military experience.

Mr. Lauer evidently didn’t recall any of that. He kicked off by asking Mr. Trump what in his life had prepared him to be president, the kind of whiffle ball job-interview question you ask the boss’s nephew you know you have to hire anyway.

Frank Rich, New York magazine:

Much ridicule, all deserved, has been aimed at Lauer’s laughably empty reservoir of facts, particularly when questioning the fact-free Trump. (“Questioning” may be an overstatement in this context; Lauer didn’t question Trump so much as feed him anodyne cues to spew any hooey he wanted.) The most widely panned example of the moderator’s failure is particularly galling: Clinton herself said in the forum’s opening round that Trump was initially in favor of the Iraq War, having said so on Howard Stern’s radio show in 2002. But Lauer didn’t even listen to her. When Trump said just minutes later that he had been against the war from the start — and cited a 2004 Esquire article as proof — Lauer not only failed to challenge the conflict between what he said and the truth cited by Clinton but seemed oblivious to the fact that the Iraq War began in 2003. And let’s not forget that interlude when Trump was claiming that Vladimir Putin is a superior leader to Barack Obama — an outrageous argument that Lauer never challenged. To prove his point, Trump cited “polls” that give Putin an 82 percent approval rating. What polls? Lauer didn’t ask. I dare say Trump could have cited Chinese polls from the 1960s that gave Mao a 100 percent approval rating, and this moderator would have just nodded and moved on to the next topic on his crib sheet.

Of course, these comments were genteel and measured compared to some on the leftie blogs. But you get the picture.

A few were more forgiving:

Charles Pierce, Esquire:

If you assume, as I do, that simply telling El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago that he is a lying sack of hair who knows less about most major issues than a rhino knows about differential calculus would be frowned upon at the upper echelons of NBC, then there wasn’t much for poor Lauer to do. The man denies he said what he clearly said. He denies he did what he clearly did. He claims to know more about any subject about which he clearly knows nothing. He is the hero of his own epic in which he’s already won because…winning! How do bring someone to a reckoning when he’s already triumphant in his own mind?

Journalism’s great enemy is not untruth. It’s futility.

Donald Trump was appalling last night. He was exposed, again, as someone from whom you wouldn’t buy an apple, let alone a foreign policy. He didn’t know that we already have military courts. He didn’t know that you can’t just go “get the oil.” (Someone should ask the Kurds what they think about this.) He lied, again, about his previous positions regarding the military operations in Iraq and Libya. He defended an old tweet of his about how, if we’re going to have women and men in the military, then the occasional sexual assault is part of the price we should be expected to pay. He pronounced himself impressed by Vladimir Putin’s poll numbers in Russia.

Think about that for a moment.

Hm. Well, if we’re saying here that the media upper echelons will not allow grilling of Donald Trump out of some misguided sense of propriety, then that’s one thing. But then, why even bother? Why have news media at all? Let’s just cut the crap and let the candidates run their own puff pieces and advertising.

Update: See also William Saletan, “NBC’s Commander in Chief Forum Was an Authoritarian Farce.”

More: Jonathan Chait, “Matt Lauer’s Pathetic Interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Is the Scariest Thing I’ve Seen in This Campaign

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My Plan for Fighting Zika


The Senate has nixed another Zika funding bill.

As Congress returned from a seven-week recess on Tuesday, Senate Democrats again stymied a $1.1 billion plan to fight the Zika virus, demanding that Republicans drop an effort to block Planned Parenthood from receiving money to combat the mosquito-borne disease.

Democrats, who had essentially blocked the same legislation in late June, had enough votes Tuesday to prevent Congress from moving emergency funding public health experts say is desperately needed as they prepare for the possibility that Zika will spread to other states along the gulf coast. The vote was 52 to 46, and Republicans needed 60 votes to advance the bill….

… The Republican-driven package was supposed to resolve the differences between a bipartisan Senate plan and a less Democrat-friendly House version. The bill would exclude Planned Parenthood from the list of providers that get new funding for contraception to combat spread of the virus, which can be sexually transmitted.

Mitch McConnell sorrowfully wondered how Democrats could be so stubborn.

“It’s hard to explain why, despite their own calls for funding, Democrats would block plans to keep women and babies safe from Zika,” Mr. McConnell said before the vote.

Tell us about how you want to keep women and babies safe by blocking Planned Parenthood funding, Mitch. I’m sure you’ve got an excuse, somewhere.

Oh, and my plan is to spread a rumor in Washington that Zika doesn’t just affect pregnant women; it also causes permanent and untreatable erectile dysfunction. In a month or two there wouldn’t be a mosquito left on the East Coast. Maybe in the Western Hemisphere.

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Phyllis Schlafly, 1924-2016


General merriment is allowed.

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Obama Administration

Now the Dems are worried that Hillary Clinton may not have as strong a lock on the “black vote” as they had assumed. Especially the younger “black vote.”

Young African-Americans, like all voters their age, are typically far harder to drive to the polls than middle-aged and older Americans. Yet with just over two months until Election Day, many Democrats are expressing alarm at the lack of enthusiasm, and in some cases outright resistance, some black millennials feel toward Mrs. Clinton.

Now they notice.  Especially after the early southern primaries in which African American voters gave Hillary Clinton what would prove to be an insurmountable advantage in the pledged delegate count, establishment Democrats have assumed African American voters were safely locked in the “we’re with her” box.

Indeed, for a time we who supported Sanders were jeered at as letting our “white privilege” show, because if we really cared about African American issues we’d support Hillary, for some reason that was never clear to me. And no other politician on earth beside Hillary Clinton could be counted on to defeat Donald Trump, we were told.

Of course, those early southern primaries were held before voters had had much of a chance to know who Bernie Sanders even was.

A Gallup poll back in February showed a whopping 31 percent of black Democrats polled didn’t even have an opinion of Sanders yet, while only eight percent had no opinion in regards to Clinton. Obviously Clinton had much more name recognition than Sanders, but 1/3 of the voters of an entire race is a staggering number—and one that could clearly cost a candidate dearly.

And I’m sure Sanders regrets not working harder to make himself known. But it still stinks.

Sanders enjoyed a the support of a majority of black millennial voters, a point usually buried deeply in the few news stories that mentioned it at all. But now the Clinton campaign is in general election mode, and to their consternation they are realizing they can’t count on the black millennial vote. And this could cost them some swing states.

The question of just how many young African-Americans will show up to vote carries profound implications for this election. Mrs. Clinton is sure to dominate Mr. Trump among black voters, but her overwhelming margin could ultimately matter less than the total number of blacks who show up to vote.

To replicate President Obama’s success in crucial states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, she cannot afford to let the percentage of the electorate that is black slip far below what it was in 2012. And while a modest drop-off of black votes may not imperil Mrs. Clinton’s prospects, given Mr. Trump’s unpopularity among upscale white voters, it could undermine Democrats’ effort to capture control of the Senate and win other down-ballot elections.

The real problem is that Democratic elites cleared the field for Clinton before the primaries even started to be sure she’d be the nominee. They had persuaded themselves from polls that the Democratic base adored her and would support her candidacy with wild enthusiasm. But the same polls taken at the same point in the election cycle showed exactly the same thing in 2007, as well. The truth is that a big chunk of the Democratic base has been lukewarm, at most, to her all along. And independent voters are not even lukewarm.

With the DNC’s partisan help, and with no real competition in the primaries other than an aging socialist, she prevailed. IMO if Joe Biden or Sherrod Brown or Liz Warren or a number of other well-known Dems had challenged her, she probably would have lost the nomination again. Hence, the field had to be cleared. The elites seem to have missed the part about how an astroturf candidate might be weak in the general election.

Mrs. Clinton’s difficulties with young African-Americans were laid bare in four focus groups conducted in Cleveland and Jacksonville, Fla., for a handful of progressive organizations spending millions on the election: the service employees union, a joint “super PAC” between organized labor and the billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, and a progressive group called Project New America. The results were outlined in a 25-page presentation by Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster, and shared with The New York Times by another party strategist who wanted to draw attention to Mrs. Clinton’s difficulties in hopes that the campaign would move more aggressively to address the matter.

The only message that Clinton is getting out is that she’s not Donald Trump, and that ought to be enough to win the election, because Trump is horrible. But one does wonder what she’s raising money for.

Clinton is beginning September with $68 million in her campaign coffers. The hefty war chest means the Democratic White House hopeful has the resources to continue an expensive ad blitz against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, while also investing in an expansive field operation.

The only Clinton television ad I’ve seen more than once is one in which Trump is on a television talk show showing off his ties made in China. The black millennials (and white ones, also) want to know what she plans to do about systemic racism, including mass incarceration and police conduct. She’s issued statements about these things, her campaign says.

Do you know what those statements are? This information is sorta kinda on  her website, if you want to read about it, but I haven’t seen anything in news media. And yes, Trump is sucking all the air out of news coverage. But Clinton hasn’t held a splashy public event in several weeks. She’s been busy raising money.  That field operation she’s investing in must be something.

There’s still the debates, and I still expect her to win. But she’s still a terrible candidate.

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Stuff toRead

Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

The Friday/Labor Day Weekend document dump is an FBI report on … wait for it… Hillary Clinton’s emails. Politico has released the “12 juiciest bits.” I skimmed this and didn’t notice anything all that juicy, but I’m sure somebody will find something they can blow up into a Big Bleeping Deal.

There’s a lot of complaining today about the failure of the press to cover the presidential election campaigns in a rational way. See Charles Pierce, “Donald Trump’s Trip to Mexico Was an Embarrassment for Our Nation’s Media” and “The New York Times Screws Up Its Clinton Coverage, Part Infinity.” See also Josh Marshall, “Trump’s Blood Libel and Press Failure.”

And do read about Atrios’s afternoon with the Evil League of Evil Labor Economists.

Marco Gutierrez, founder of the group Latinos for Trump, has warned the nation that if it doesn’t do something about Latino Culture, some day there will be a taco truck on every corner. People on social media are struggling to understand why that would be a bad thing.

The presidential debate moderators are set, and Trump apparently plans to just wing it rather than prep for them. The effectiveness of this strategy will depend, I think, on how much control the moderators can keep on the proceedings, and if they have the nerve to ask him follow up questions. But it’s also the case that if he tries to bully her in any way, Hillary Clinton will capitalize on it.

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The Road to Stupid

Bad Hair

Trump is taking a road trip to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Josh Marshall explains why this is a bad idea:

It’s a general rule of politics not to enter into unpredictable situations or cede control of an event or happening to someone who wants to hurt you. President Nieto definitely does not want Donald Trump to become President. He probably assumes he won’t become president, simply by reading the polls. President Nieto is himself quite unpopular at the moment. But no one is more unpopular than Donald Trump. Trump is reviled. Toadying to Trump would be extremely bad politics; standing up to him, good politics.

Put those factors together and Peña Nieto has massive and overlapping reasons to want to embarrass Trump. At a minimum since he’s probably not eager to create a true international incident, he has zero interest in appearing in any way accommodating or helpful. The calculus might be different if Trump seemed likely to be the next US President. Mexico is a minor power with the world colossus on its doorstep. But a Trump presidency seems unlikely. Far likelier, Peña Nieto will need to build a relationship with Hillary Clinton. These factors combined make for an inherently dangerous political situation for Donald Trump, especially since the atmospherics of this meeting will be the backdrop for Trump’s evening speech which is itself an incredibly important moment and one in which he has set for himself what is likely an impossible challenge.

And here’s the punch line:

Trump is apparently traveling to Mexico with Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions as his minders.

The Trump campaign has been one long exercise in shark-jumping, but this is epic even for Trump.

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Gene Wilder, 1933-2016

entertainment and popular culture

Say hi to Gilda for us.

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The Collateral Damage of Neoliberalism

Obama Administration

A professor emerita of sociology at the University of California-Berkeley spends time with Trump supporters in Louisiana and forms a hypothesis about why they support Trump, which actually is interesting and insightful. Read “I Spent Five Years With Some of Trump’s Biggest Fans” by Arlie Russell Hochschild.

The capsule version is that there are pockets of white culture that have developed a huge ambivalence, shall we say, about government. I can remember when people of the same demographic were excited about Ronald Reagan because they believed he would “kick all the bums off welfare,” as one woman told me then.

Hochschild’s hypothesis is that these white people consider it shameful to take government assistance and resent the “undeserving” types who are in an imaginary line ahead of them and soaking up all the benefits. “Shaming the ‘takers’ below had been a precious mark of higher status.”

But then she says,

Trump, the King of Shame, has covertly come to the rescue. He has shamed virtually every line-cutting group in the Deep Story—women, people of color, the disabled, immigrants, refugees. But he’s hardly uttered a single bad word about unemployment insurance, food stamps, or Medicaid, or what the tea party calls “big government handouts,” for anyone—including blue-collar white men.

In this feint, Trump solves a white male problem of pride. Benefits? If you need them, okay. He masculinizes it. You can be “high energy” macho—and yet may need to apply for a government benefit. As one auto mechanic told me, “Why not? Trump’s for that. If you use food stamps because you’re working a low-wage job, you don’t want someone looking down their nose at you.” A lady at an after-church lunch said, “If you have a young dad who’s working full time but can’t make it, if you’re an American-born worker, can’t make it, and not having a slew of kids, okay. For any conservative, that is fine.”

But in another stroke, Trump adds a key proviso: restrict government help to real Americans. White men are counted in, but undocumented Mexicans and Muslims and Syrian refugees are out. Thus, Trump offers the blue-collar white men relief from a taker’s shame: If you make America great again, how can you not be proud? Trump has put on his blue-collar cap, pumped his fist in the air, and left mainstream Republicans helpless. Not only does he speak to the white working class’ grievances; as they see it, he has finally stopped their story from being politically suppressed. We may never know if Trump has done this intentionally or instinctively, but in any case he’s created a movement much like the anti-immigrant but pro-welfare-state right-wing populism on the rise in Europe. For these are all based on variations of the same Deep Story of personal protectionism.

It struck me while I was reading this that white folks didn’t have problems with the New Deal. I know I’ve written about this in the past, but the anti-government thing really didn’t start until Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program. Then, all of a sudden, white people who had been helped enormously by many New Deal programs, and who had received subsidized mortgages and college educations thanks to the GI Bill, were against government programs.

But they might have gotten over that by now had the Democrats remained committed to working class Americans. But in the 1980s neoliberalism became the new, shiny thing among up-and-coming Democrats, and neoliberalism threw working people under the bus in favor of of investors and entrepreneurs. The neolibs were even anti-union.

Red states are, in fact, a lot stingier with benefits, and “welfare reform” didn’t help. (See also.) In the poorer states, white people are either hanging on to a middle-class lifestyle by their fingernails or have fallen out of it. And once you’ve lost your grip, it’s close to impossible to climb back up.

Hochschild’s hypothesis is also interesting because it tells us that Trump voters are rejecting right-wing “small government” ideology. Maybe the tipping point has finally been reached at which enough red-state whites are hurting enough to admit they need help, but they are still too racist to accept help if it puts them in the same welfare line, so to speak, as nonwhites.

Well, it’s a start. But see “Trump a Working-Class Hero? A Blue-Collar Town Debates His Credentials.” Here it’s blue-collar workers in Youngstown, Ohio, who have watched their community get poorer and poorer.  Trump appeals to many of them because they think he will take charge and actually do something, as opposed to the nothing they’ve gotten from either the public or private sector for a long time. Of course, one would hope a more pro-active and progressive government would have done something to keep Youngstown from stagnating in the first place. But government hasn’t been pro-active and progressive for a very long time.

A number of people interviewed in this article are Democrats who plan to vote for Trump. Hillary Clinton isn’t mentioned. But note that all the polls show Clinton beating Trump in Ohio.

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